What You Have to Know about Status of Crimea (by Ambassador Yakovenko for RT)

The coup d’état in Kiev in February 2014 backed by the West tore up the constitutional space in Ukraine. The legitimate President of the country was overthrown. It was marked by a severe lack of democracy and violence that posed a direct threat to the well-being of Russian-speaking population of Crimea. Citizens of Crimea faced the choice of becoming an oppressed minority or severing their ties with the hostile regime to secure a future for themselves and their children. The decision to hold a referendum was made by legitimate local authorities. The independence of Crimea was proclaimed and an appeal to enter the Russian Federation was made based on the indisputable results of the popular vote. Standards of international law were fully observed as the right of nations to self-determination enshrined in the UN Charter was exercised freely by the Crimeans. Crimea was recognized as an independent and sovereign state by Russia and on 18 March 2014 in Moscow the two countries signed a Treaty of Unification, under which the Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol became two new regions - subjects of the Russian Federation.

Meanwhile, speculations around the status of Crimea as part of Russia continue in the UK, notwithstanding the reality. At the same time, some Western countries have their own territorial disputes. For example, there is an ongoing dispute between the UK and Mauritius concerning the status of the Chagos Archipelago. The Republic of Mauritius submitted a UN General Assembly draft resolution “Request for an advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice on the legal consequences of the separation of the Chagos Archipelago from Mauritius in 1965”. The UK claimed that the UN General Assembly is not authorized to resolve an issue of the status of territories. However, the UK supported the UN General Assembly resolution "Territorial Integrity of Ukraine". The UK and the US have also supported the Ukrainian politically motivated UN General Assembly draft resolution "Situation of human rights in the Crimea”. As a matter of fact, the Chagossians were forcibly displaced from the Archipelago to Mauritius at the end of 1960 - the beginning of the 1970s.

There is another example. Despite numerous appeals recorded in unanimously adopted resolutions of the UN General Assembly and the Special Committee on Decolonization, the UK authorities constantly refuse to launch direct negotiations with Argentina to find a solution of the status of the Malvinas (Falklands). At the same time, having held a referendum on the islands, which population consists of citizens of the UK, London tries to forge arguments, which run counter to the relevant UN decisions. The British authorities respect the results of the referendum – 99.3% of participants have supported the status quo - unlike the one the Crimeans held in 2014.

It is also worth mentioning that the decision to give Mayotte the status of overseas department of the French Republic contradicts article 6 of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples ("Any attempt aimed at the partial or total disruption of the national unity and the territorial integrity of a country is incompatible with the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations"). With reference to the referendum held in Mayotte, Paris “gave inhabitants of the island a constitutional right to resolve an issue of separation independently ". Besides that on 6 February 1976 France blocked the UN Security Council resolution calling to cancel the referendum in Mayotte on the issue of self-determination, and on 8 February 1976 it was carried out (by results of the referendum, 99% population voted against the status of Mayotte as part of the Comoros). On 11 April 1976 the referendum on legal status of Mayotte as part of the French Republic was held. The French presence on the island was repeatedly condemned by the UN General Assembly resolutions. General Assembly also recognized the above referenda as invalid. France, in turn, stated that the UNGA resolutions have advisory nature and are not legally binding.

Good food for thought.